93rd Oscar Predictions: Mank Should Lose and Lose Bad

It’s two months after the normal time of year where everybody who writes about movies locks in their predictions for the upcoming awards ceremony. I won’t break down all of them, you don’t really need me pontificating on Best Costume Design (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). But I’ll hit the big ones, and really break down why Mank needs to be shut the fuck out.

Best Original Screenplay

Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stansfield in Judas and the Black Messiah, courtesy Warner Brothers
Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and the Black Messiah, courtesy Warner Brothers

This is a tough category this year. I’ll go ahead and say all five films belong there, even though Minari is still on my “Must See” list, and the only major nominee I have left to watch. Maybe my mind will change once I finally watch Minari, but for me it’s a toss-up between Judas & The Black Messiah or Promising Young Woman. It could really go either way.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Ben-Kinglsey Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night In Miami, courtesy Amazon studios
Ben-Kinglsey Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night In Miami, courtesy Amazon studios

On the flipside, this one… I’ve only watched two of the nominees. I don’t see myself ever watching The Father, but that’s because I just can’t with stories on taking care of an ailing, frail parent. It hits too close to home for me. I think Nomadland is the heavy favourite. Were I to vote, I’d give the advantage to One Night In Miami, but Nomadland, as much as I didn’t love it, is still a good choice.

Best Original Score

I only gave prime real estate to this category so I could say that if they’re gonna give Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross an Oscar this year, it should be for Soul, and absolutely not Mank.

Best Original Song

GIVE IT TO EUROVISION YOU FUCKING COWARDS!

Best Animated Feature

Over the Moon Poster, courtesy Netflix
Over the Moon Poster, courtesy Netflix

I loved Soul and Over The Moon, I keep circling Wolfwalkers, and maybe I finally will pull that trigger this weekend. I’d like to see it go to Over The Moon. Mainly because it was a great film that flew under the radar, but also to break up the Disney/Pixar stranglehold on the category. They’ve won 13 of the 19, 8 in the past decade, can we just spread that love a bit?

Best Supporting Actress

Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy, courtesy Netflix
Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy, courtesy Netflix

Yuh-Jung Youn in Minari has some momentum heading into the Oscars, but Glenn Close has A- been of the most consistently great actresses of the past few decades, and B- been one of the most consistently snubbed actresses. I mean… she lost to strong winners each year, don’t get me wrong. The Oscars love that make-good award (see Best Director below), and Glenn Close is due, even if it’s for the much hated Hillbilly Elegy, one that I just absolutely refuse to watch. It doesn’t look appealing at all. I don’t care how good her performance is. It just looks like a trash film. And I hate to reward a good performance in a bad film. But if she’s there for this film, she’s there to win.

Best Supporting Actor

Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah, courtesy Warner Bros.
Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah, courtesy Warner Bros.

Had Chadwick Boseman not died, this category would be a tight race between everyone not named Daniel Kaluuya (more on him later). I don’t know who I’d bump into his spot, probably David Strathairn for Nomadland, or even Kaluuya’s Judas & The Black Messiah costar Jesse Plemmons. But as it stands, it’s going to come down to Kaluuya or Lakeith Stanfield for Judas. They could also split the vote and Paul Raci winds up on top, as his was a more subdued by equally brilliant and engaging performance in Sound of Metal.

Best Lead Actress

Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, courtesy Netflix
Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, courtesy Netflix

Again, not as in love with Nomadland as it appears I’m supposed to be, and Frances McDormand is certainly great in general. I just don’t think this should be her year, and should absolutely be Viola Davis’ for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. She had that bombastic flair about her that was just perfect, she filled every scene she was in. Carey Mulligan could be a dark horse spoiler, while Vanessa Kirby and Andra Day are essentially seat fillers at this point.

Best Lead Actor

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, courtesy Netflix
Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, courtesy Netflix

In any other year, this is where Daniel Kaluuya would be nominated for Judas, but the late Chadwick Boseman is the odds on sentimental favourite. And I hate knowing that Steven Yeun would be the most likely bumped nominee to keep Gary Oldman, were Kaluuya in this category. All that to say it’s Boseman’s award this year.

Best Director

Emerald Fennell directing Promising Young Woman
Emerald Fennell directing Promising Young Woman, courtesy Focus Features

David Fincher is one of my all time favourite directors. Mank is easily his worst film, and yes I’m including Alien3 in that. And like 90% of his music videos. It’s so offensively bland and mediocre, it’s hard to believe Fincher made it. He’s so much better than this. And yet… the Oscars have regularly ignored him the past 30 years, and they do love movies about Hollywood. This could be the much maligned “Make good” win for Fincher, even though the other four nominees are more deserving, and it should go to Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, or ChloĆ© Zhao for Nomadland. In that order.

Best Picture

Courtesy Warner Bros.

Fortunately I don’t think Mank stands a chance in the Best Picture race. As beholden to old-timey Hollywood the Academy is, they won’t make the same The Artist mistake again. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. My ranked choice vote would go Judas & The Black Messiah, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, Trial of the Chicago 7, Nomadland, the two movies I didn’t see, like 20 other movies released last year, Slaxx (the movie about killer blue jeans), and then Mank. I think they’ll ultimately give it to Nomadland, and that’s a fine… less offensive choice. It’s gorgeously shot and directed film, but its greatness begins and ends there. There’s nothing too spectacular about the script or the performances. If we’re looking at films with the whole package, it’s the four that came in ahead of Nomadland a few sentences ago, and also Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (seriously…. how TF did that get snubbed out of Best Picture?!)

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